As an interior designer, mirrors are more than a reflective surface or decorative bonus – mirrors are problem solvers. They can become just about anything a design needs such as open, brighten, sparkle, redirection or focus. It’s all in how you use them.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Here are some of my favorite ways to use mirrors as tools, even when they’re acting as a feature.
To make a small room look a little larger
When I was a child, I was amazed at the effect certain mirrors had in a room. When placed just right, a mirror became an optical illusion, and I could swear it was possible to walk right through into that mirrored world – through the looking glass, so to speak. This is the case when a well-placed mirror reflects just the right opening or angle of a room. The effect will make a smaller living room or sitting area feel much larger than it actually is and it adds visual interest to boot.
The mirror in this quaint, San Francisco bungalow does just that, and it does double duty, acting like an extra window.
Add a window where there isn’t one
In the case above, the room is already nicely lit, but the window echoes the adjacent window’s lines so beautifully that it acts almost like a match. I also like to use mirrors in rooms where there isn’t a window – or only a single window – to be had. They trick your eye into believing there’s more of a view than there actually is. Mirrors also reflect light, mimicking a window’s effect. This works in any room, and is also a smart consideration along the sides of an interior hallway, especially in combination with well-placed sconces or suspended light fixtures.
At the end of a long hallway
As long as we’re speaking of hallways, a mirror is a welcome addition at the end of a narrow hallway because it bounces an image back at you, shrinking the length a bit. It also harnesses any available light and becomes a focal point for the eye. Similarly, mirrors are a smart installation in most entryways. Since entryways are often narrow or abrupt, the mirror makes it feel less cramped. Additionally, guests enjoy the ability to check their appearance upon arrival and before departure.
To capitalize on something beautiful
Be thoughtful when hanging a mirror to ensure it reflects something beautiful. Ideas include a work of art, a beautiful suspended light fixture (you benefit from improved lighting here), a picture window or some greenery. The mirror will become a “scene” in the space, so to speak, so you want to make that scene as desirable as possible.
Mirrored furniture is a great way to leverage all the benefits of mirrors with the added benefit of functionality. Not only does mirrored furniture add a little sparkle and glimmer to a space, it can also create “see-through” effects – which open up small spaces, funky corners or difficult design areas.
Add color and square footage
Rental or no, you can add both color and square footage with mirrors. They are portable, so there’s no need to worry about anything more than a dab of spackle when you leave, but they’ll reflect your design back to you. This can be a good way to get a color boost without using paint. I like using extra-large mirrors, propped up against that was, rather than hung, to provide a powerful design pop. It reflects almost the whole space back to you, literally echoing your colors, patterns, and accents.
As a focal point
While frameless mirrors are popular in modern design, there’s something to be said about a beautiful mirror frame. Often, the right frame makes the mirror look like a work of art itself. Then, when hung opposite something beautiful, the effect is multiplied.
Do you have mirrors hung for “no reason?” Try looking at the room with an objective eye and see how things could be rearranged so you capitalize on the mirror’s effect.
- Trick of the trade: Of course, the key to enjoying your mirrored effects is to keep mirrors free of dust, fingerprints and pet smudges. I recommend purchasing an eco-friendly mirror cleaning product and some lint-free cloths. Spray the cloths – not the mirror – to protect the lifespan of its frame.